Sarah W.


I am Director of Art & Education at metaLAB at Harvard and Co-Founder of the The Data Nutrition Project. My work explores the interrelations between complex systems, and the social implications of artificial intelligence through teaching, research, and interactive art.


AI Pedagogy Project Invisible Waves
How the Light Gets In The Shell Garden The Moral Labryinth The Future of Secrets





AI Pedagogy Project

I am project lead of metaLAB’s AI Pedagogy Project (AIPP), a resource aimed at guiding educators in critically engaging with AI tools in their teaching. This initiative is tailored especially for post-secondary educators in non-technical fields, in order to address the opportunities of and concerns about AI use in the classroom. In early 2023, I noticed that while students were curious and intrigued with the availability of AI tools, educators and administrators were not equally equipped to meet the moment. Particularly in writing-heavy disciplines, there was concern—and confusion—about AI tools like large language models. We took this as an opportunity to build a site for educators to help them consider whether to engage with AI technologies in their teaching, and how to do so critically and creatively.

The project offers:
  • A searchable collection of educator-designed assignments for integrating AI into syllabi, and doing so responsibly and critically
  • Understandable AI concept descriptions designed to outline essential concepts and skills in a streamlined guide
  • Recommendations for educators on how to begin their AI journey in the classroom
  • An interactive tutorial on using large language models
  • A resource list for further AI exploration, including related projects

The AI Pedagogy Project seeks to demystify AI, encouraging critical engagement and creative AI applications in education. It's an evolving platform, designed to adapt alongside AI advancements and their societal impacts, and engage students in analyzing and critically re-imagining the future of this technology. All assignments are adaptable to diverse pedagogical styles and classroom needs. The AI Guide offers a comprehensive introduction for AI novices and those wishing to expand their knowledge. 

Swimming in a Sea of Invisible Waves

Swimming in a Sea of Invisible Waves is a multimodal project – part art, part science communication, part public engagement – that seeks to understand, demystify, and create designs to visualize the various radio frequency technologies (including wifi, cellular, bluetooth, and satellite) that provide the scaffolding for 21st century information and communication technologies.

The invisibility of technology infrastructures are varied: some are invisible because they are literally out of sight—server farms, submarine cables, and under- or over-ground wiring; this project focuses on those that are invisible because their signals are in the form of radio waves outside of the visible spectrum (the pulsing of bluetooth, the cellular connection via triangulated towers, the wireless signal to a wired router).

This project focuses on the massive amounts of information moving invisibly around us, and supporting our daily lives, our economy, our tech development big and small, and essential to life in the 21st century, while largely either ignored or misunderstood. 

Work in progress. Project team includes: Dhriti VadlakondaKathleen Esfahany, Lindsay Saftler, Maggie Chen, Mohsin Yousufi, Rebecca Kilberg, Sabrina Madera, Sonia Sobrino Ralston, Taylor Bledsoe, Zachary Slonsky

How the Light Gets In

An interactive installation highlighting the experiences and wisdom of formerly incarcerated women at the Spencer Museum of Art and Lawrence Public Library.

There are fragments of wisdom everywhere.

How the Light Gets In is an interactive art installation in two parts — offered at Lawrence Public Library and the Spencer Museum of Art — and exploring themes of learning and knowledge, chance encounters, and finding wisdom in unexpected places.

Created by Sarah Newman and the metaLAB team and developed in collaboration with Professor Hyunjin Seo and the KU Center for Digital Inclusion, this project builds on the work of Professor Seo and her team with formerly incarcerated women reentering society. Newman and the KU team developed the project through a combination of conversations and creative workshops with these women.

The installation poses questions about who holds knowledge and wisdom and who is situated to teach or transmit that knowledge to others. The work also explores the role of chance, or luck, in a person’s life. The myth that hard work and determination are sufficient for success ignores individuals’ circumstances that are beyond their control. Over the past year, the women in the reentry program participated in workshops and conversations with Newman to contribute their words as the text that is displayed and printed in both sites, and which will intermingle with the reflections of museum-goers and library patrons. In this way, informed by the wisdom of the women in the program as well as of the audience, the exhibition encourages viewers to approach others with compassion, curiosity, and humility.

The installation at the Spencer Museum includes a 360 degree text-based projection of the women’s wisdom projected onto theater scrim, animated and dreamlike, it also includes six alcoves that museum-goers can enter to submit their own knowledge to the expanding corpus of text that mysteriously prints in the gallery ceiling and falls to the floor. One of the alcoves contains a “reading nook” with a selection of books by artists, scholars, and writers on themes of incarceration, oppression, and power.

At the Lawrence Public Library, the exhibit occupies the library atrium, where eight selected texts from the women inscribe the columns of the atrium. The library installation also includes custom designed lighting, an interactive station where library patrons can contribute their own knowledge to the database, and a printer that will print content submitted by the women, by the museum-goers, and by the library patrons. The librarians also have created a special selection of books and media, which will be available in the atrium in the seating area of the exhibition.


Leads: Sarah Newman (art) & Hyunjin Seo (research) Design: Juliana Castro, Sabrina Madera, Sonia Ralston, Jade Wu
Facilitation: Darcey Altschwager, & Annalise Baines Research: Asa Hadley
Tech: Max Lever & Daniel Feist
Sound: Halsey Burgund
Animation & Projection: Antonieta Bocxe & Josh Heckathorn-Lane
Curatorial: Joey Orr, Spencer Museum of Art, Heather Kearns, Lawrence Public Library

Contributors to this work include Agnes Lambert, Audrey, Brittania McKnight, Carol Long, Cassandra Rosine, Cassandra Taylor, Charisa Chairozaim, Jodi R Whitt, JSSV, Kathyrn Skirvin, Kim Gardner, Kitty, LaTisha Fouch, Linda Swopes, Marilyn Chaney, Michelle Prettyman, Phoenix rose from the ashes!, Rebecca Riedel, Sabrena Morgan, Samantha Jo Archer, Sehara A Hays, Sonja M. West, Stacey Johnson, Tameeka Allen, Tamiko Grandison, Tanesha W., Tosh, and additional contributors who chose to remain anonymous.

This project is a collaboration between metaLAB (at) Harvard, the KU Center for Digital Inclusion, the Spencer Museum of Art, and the Lawrence Public Library. It is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, the Mellon Foundation, and the Linda Inman Bailey Exhibitions Fund.

The Shell Garden

An interactive installation along the Somerville Community Path, August-October, 2022.

Everything comes from and returns to the earth.

Made of reclaimed, laser-engraved wood, and found seashells from the artist’s collection. Supported by the Somerville Arts Council Fellowship and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. 

Special thanks to Sonia Ralston, Sabrina Madera, Asa Hadley, and Shreya Tewari.

Oceans around the world are increasing in water temperature, which has drastic consequences for the entire marine ecosystem. This includes coral bleaching, when coral discharges its algae and turns a white color, severely weakening the coral and the thousands of species that rely on its health. The accelerated melting of polar ice caps has increased the salinity of some areas of the ocean, which threatens the ecosystem of zooplankton, the catalyst of success for the marine food chain. At the same time, industrial fishing companies are overfishing, and factories around the world are dumping toxic waste and garbage into the ocean. With this increase of plastic pollution, ocean biodiversity decreases.

Global warming has also destroyed the habitats of many marine animals. For example, the number of mollusks in the Mediterranean Sea has decreased significantly over the last few decades. In addition to rising sea temperatures, marine animals face other climate change threats as well, such as harmful noises from fuel and cargo ships that interfere with echolocation by marine mammals. Climate change has also perpetuated harmful ocean acidification. As the ocean absorbs atmospheric CO2, it reacts with the seawater. High levels of acidity have proven very harmful against marine animals, coral, and other lifeforms. The rising sea level will not only affect the residents of the water, but also people on land.

By 2050, rising sea levels will affect over 570 cities, and by 2100, the higher sea level will threaten 200 million people who live in low coastal areas. Be mindful of your own consumption, waste, and carbon footprint. If you can, donate to programs that clean the oceans, and encourage  your political representatives to focus on the climate crisis.

Studio assistants: Sonia Ralston & Sabrina Madera
Research assistant: Asa Hadley
Installation companion & photos: Shreya Tewari
& The Somerville Arts Council Fellowship & the Massachusetts Cultural Council

Broom, Douglas. “This is how climate change is impacting the ocean - and what we can do about it.” The World Economic Forum, 11 May 2021. 

Cross, Daniel T. “Climate change is driving mollusks extinct in the eastern Mediterranean.” Sustainability Times, 12 January 2021. 

McCarthy, Joe. “Climate Change Is Devastating Marine Life as the World's Oceans Warm: Report.” Global Citizen, 7 April 2021. 

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. “Climate change and the ocean.” MBARI, 2019.

National Geographic. “Ocean Impacts of Climate Change.” National Geographic Society, 20 May 2022.

The Moral Labyrinth

Would you trust a robot trained on your behaviors?
How will we know when a machine becomes sentient?
What does it mean to be moral?

As machines get smarter, more complex, and able to operate autonomously in the world, we’ll need to program them with certain “values.”

Yet we do not agree on what we value: across cultures, across individuals, even within ourselves. We often do not act in accordance with what we say we value, so should these systems learn from what we say or what we do? What are the implications of how our current belief systems manifest in the swiftly approaching technological future? As we anticipate such change, can we use this technological moment to become more honest, humble, and compassionate?

Moral Labyrinth is an interactive art installation that takes shape as a physical walking labyrinth, comprised of philosophical questions, and an individualized “digital” labyrinth on an accompanying laptop. The work is a meditation on perennial—and now particularly pressing—aspects of being human. Engaging with the difficult task of aligning values, it gently reveals the gravity of the problem, and creates an open space to reflect on questions. It also hopefully allows us to see our own values more honestly and critically, as a first step toward any solution.

Visit the Moral Labyrinth website to submit your own question.


Rainbow Unicorn, Berlin. Part of Transmediale Vorspiel
January-February, 2018, paneled wall mural

Ars Electronica Festival, Linz, Austria
September, 2018, walking labyrinth and interactive digital experience

Mozfest, Ravensbourne University, London
October, 2018, Walking labyrinth made entirely of baking soda

Community Bike Path, Somerville, MA
December 2018.

WeRobot, University of Miami, April 2019, with Jessica Fjeld.

Moral Labyrinth Workshop. RightsCon, Tunis, June 2019, with Mindy Seu and Jie Qi. 

Moral Labyrinth, Northeastern School of Law, Boston, forthcoming, April 2020.

Special thanks to Black Cat Labs for the wonderful laser cutting work.